Bjorklund fired

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Expo Square CEO Rick Bjorklund was fired today, as the scandal involving special treatment for Loretta Murphy's Big Splash continues to grow. Big Splash's annual rent payment to Expo Square of $130,000 was due last October; it still hasn't been paid. An rent check from 2006 of $68,000 was held by Expo Square and hadn't been cashed. This came on top of Big Splash reopening this summer without replacing rotting structural timbers on its slide tower, as mandated in December by a State Labor Commission inspector.

The Murphy family seems to have been receiving special treatment for years. As I noted when Expo Square evicted Bell's Amusement Park:

You'll recall that a Loretta Murphy gave $5,000 to the Randi Miller for Mayor campaign. Loretta Murphy owns Big Splash water park, another Expo Square tenant. Her husband Jerry Murphy owns Murphy Brothers. Shortly after Loretta's donation to Miller, the Fair Board awarded Murphy Brothers a non-competitive 10-year contract to provide the Tulsa State Fair's midway. Murphy Brothers might be happy just to have Bell's gone, so that all the State Fair-goers will have to ride their midway rides.

We learned later that Murphy Brothers' contract gave them the right to put rides on Bell's footprint if Bell's ever vacated that property.

Some have speculated that Rick Bjorklund's hiring in 2006 was itself a favor done by the Fair Board for the Murphy family. Bjorklund had dealings with the Murphys at some of his previous jobs.

Bubbaworld points out that throwing Bjorklund under the bus doesn't fix the problem. The problem is with the Fair Board (Tulsa County Public Facilities Authority). County Commissioner Randi Miller was on the board when Bjorklund was hired and has received maximum donations from the Murphys for her mayoral and county commission races. She was the lead spokesman when the board decided to evict Bell's Amusement Park. The Fair Board failed to supervise Bjorklund and failed to verify that one of Expo Square's biggest tenants was paying its bills. You'd think someone would notice a $200,000 hole in the receipts.

Firing Bjorklund may have been the first step to cleaning up the mess at Expo Square, but the next step is for District 2 Republican primary voters to fire Randi Miller on July 29.

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1 Comments

D said:

I no longer live in Tulsa (since 2005), but follow local events rather closely still. I am amazed at the amount of corruption still in city and county government. I really hoped that some of that had died down by now.

Might I suggest a grand jury petition drive to investigate both the recent BOk settlement by Mayor Taylor, and the entire mess at the fairgrounds (Bells, Big Splash, and the Murphy no-bid midway contract)?

It appears you only need 5,000 signatures to start a grand jury, and once convened, it has wide authority to investigate the many misgivings going on - "when so assembled such grand jury shall have power to inquire into and return indictments for all character and grades of crime."

Article II, Section 18 of the state constitution gives the requirements for petitioning for a grand jury:
http://www.oscn.net/applications/oscn/DeliverDocument.asp?CiteID=84826

Good luck, former neighbors
-D

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on July 1, 2008 6:27 PM.

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